Portsmouth 3-1 Sunderland
Sunderland were made to suffer only their second league defeat of the season this afternoon on the south coast.
After a goalless opening half at Fratton Park, Glenn Loovens was dismissed just seconds into the second period when he brought down Portsmouth's Oli Hawkins inside the area.
Skipper Gareth Evans made no mistake from 12 yards before Ronan Curtis added a second with just eight played of the second 45.
Luke O’Nien halved the deficit with a clinical back post volley but Ben Thompson made sure of the points with 63 played.
The stakes couldn’t have been higher as Fratton Park hosted todays sold out Sky Bet League One fixture between two of the top three. For the match, Jack Ross made three changes from the side that started against Bristol Rovers last Saturday, with Luke O’Nien, Reece James and Duncan Watmore starting.
League leaders Pompey, meanwhile, named an unchanged starting XI as they looked to go eight points clear of the Black Cats in the race for promotion.
Sunderland, though, had only suffered one defeat in their opening 20 league fixtures – the best record in the division – and they almost gained the early initiative when O’Nien sent a sweetly-struck right footed effort towards the top corner only for it to be blocked.
Watmore’s pace and energy in the attacking third provided the Lad with a real threat throughout the opening 45, his quick feet and thinking posed plenty of questions to the Pompey backline despite not creating too many openings.
But in the end, neither stopper was called into action in a first 45 which was tight, cagey but extremely committed as both sides refused to give away anything cheaply.
That changed within seconds of the restart, though. Hawkins got the better of Loovens and the Dutchman brought the strike down inside the area leaving the referee with no choice…
Loovens was dismissed and Evans made no mistake from the penalty spot as he rifled the ball past Jon McLaughlin.
That raised the decibels at Fratton Park to another level, and with just 53 minutes on the clock the hosts grabbed a second. Curtis this time raced clear down the left and squeezed his effort past the Sunderland stopper.
Sunderland were rattled, but they issued the perfect response when O’Nien volleyed home Max Power’s cross at the back post to halve the deficit.
The breathless start to the second period continued, however it didn’t provide any further positive news for Sunderland as Thompson added a third despite McLaughin making a top-drawer goal-line clearance in the build-up.
And that’s the way it stayed as Sunderland slipped to their second league defeat of the season.
Portsmouth: McGilivray, Brown, Clarke, Naylor, Hawkins (Pitman, 80), Lowe, Curtis (Green, 88), Whatmough, Thompson, Evans (Close, 71), Thompson
Subs not used: Bass, Walkes, Burgess, Wheeler
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Loovens (Sent off), Cattermole, Honeyman (Maguire, 59), Gooch, O’Nien, Watmore (Ozturk, 48), Baldwin, James, McGeady (Sinclair, 79), Power
Subs not used: Ruiter, Oviedo, McGeouch, Maja